AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week’s deadly crash during South by Southwest is not the first time a driver plowed into a crowd of people during the festival.
Back on March 19, 2010, 26-year-old Daniel Villarreal drove his Chevy Avalanche through a barricade near Sixth Street and Congress Avenue. A young woman was rushed to the hospital with broken bones.
Police said Villarreal was trying to get away from officers at the time. He drove the wrong way down Colorado Street and hit two parked cars before crashing through the barricade. He is currently serving out an eight year prison sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and failure to stop and render aid. Villarreal will be eligible for parole in July.
Today, Austin police could not tell us what safety changes, if any, were made after that incident.
When it comes to this week’s deadly crash, the department said it is too soon to say what they might do differently next year.
“It’s important to remember that yesterday’s incident was an intentional act of one individual,” the department said in a statement. “It is not OK to drink and drive.”
Jeremy Murphy works on Sixth Street and agrees.
“I don’t think that type of stuff should be tolerated,” said Murphy. “Someone doing that type of massacre should definitely be charged to the fullest extent.”
At the intersection of Ninth and Red River, the city is already adding something extra to keep festival goers safe.
In addition to the white and orange metal barricades, they will be blocking streets with plastic barricades that will be filled with water. When full, the city transportation department said they weigh 1,655 pounds — making them much harder for a driver to plow through.
“I don’t know if that’s going to make a difference,” said Murphy, “but whatever we can do to prevent something like that from happening again, I’m all for it.”